The Minnesota Timberwolves are guaranteed a top four pick in the upcoming NBA Draft due to their league-worst record this season with the exact picked to be decided during the May 17 NBA lottery , so when a player that is ranked in that range in most NBA mock drafts decides to pull out — like Harrison Barnes did today — the Wolves suffer because of it.
Barnes, a 6-foot-8 freshman from North Carolina, probably wasn’t a likely option for the Wolves to choose with their first pick so most would assume this shouldn’t matter. It does mean, however, that the likelihood of getting quality from the first pick if the Wolves fall further than first in the draft is dwindling everyday.
Barnes joins Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones and UNC teammates John Henson and Tyler Zeller as players that would have likely received lottery grades if they had entered the 2011 NBA Draft. Since they’ve all decided to stay in school, however, players that were expected to be mid-to-late round picks are moved into the lottery, later lottery picks are becoming top five picks and a weak draft is slowly becoming even weaker.
As of today, it looks like the Wolves can get good value with either the first or second pick by selecting Duke point guard Kyrie Irving or Arizona forward Derrick Williams. If the lottery doesn’t go their way, however, watch out.